A solar-powered car sponsored by SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer for more than 35 years, this week begins the U.S. leg of its 21,000-mile quest to circle the globe, propelled only by sun’s rays. The SolarWorld Gran Turismo (GT), a collaboration between SolarWorld and Bochum University of Applied Sciences in Germany, is a two-seat sports car powered by roof-integrated solar cells. The GT’s circumnavigation of the planet, a first for a sustainable automobile, will set a “Guinness Book of World Records” record for the longest distance covered by a solar car.
“The SolarWorld GT is an ambassador for sustainable personal transportation, reminding us that the power to shift our driving habits away from dirty fossil fuels is within our grasp,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, the company’s commercial unit based in Camarillo, Calif. “Clean energy from the sun is there for the taking – without depleting the Earth’s riches.”
The SolarWorld GT will set out across the U.S. tomorrow in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Over 49 days, it will make five planned stops along a 3,774-mile route from California to South Carolina that will include visits to universities and non-profit organizations. At each stop, SolarWorld and the vehicle’s drivers and crew – the college students who developed and designed the SolarWorld GT – will host a reception showcasing the vehicle and awarding one audience member the chance to ride in the solar-powered car.
The events are open to the public and scheduled as follows:
——4 p.m. Feb. 3, University of California Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Management, Santa Barbara, Calif.
——8:30 a.m. Feb. 6, SolarWorld Americas, Camarillo.
——4 p.m. Feb. 10, Arizona State University, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, Tempe, Ariz.
——4 p.m. Feb. 23, Texas Christian University, School of Geology, Energy and the Environment, Fort Worth, Tex.
——4 p.m. March 9, Florida A&M University, High Performance Materials Institute, Tallahassee, Fla.
Throughout the vehicle’s American road trip, SolarWorld’s Facebook page will host a contest in which participants are invited to guess where the SolarWorld GT has been at various points along its journey across the U.S. Clues will be given between each stop and winners will receive SolarWorld merchandise. All participants will be entered into a drawing to receive an Apple iPad 2.
The SolarWorld GT began its trans-world journey in Australia and New Zealand in October 2011, covering more than 3,100 miles before shipping to the United States in December. Following the U.S. leg, the vehicle and its crew will travel through Europe, Africa and Asia before finishing in Australia in late 2012.